Butch Lewis, who was responsible for several multi-million dollar prizefights involving Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, and Michael and Leon Spinks (whom he managed), died at 5 a.m. Saturday morning of a massive heart attack. He was 65.
Lewis, whose first name is Ronald, had just celebrated his birthday on June 26, bringing it in with style by hosting a private affair on Delaware’s Bethany Beach that included a performance by the legendary soul group the O’Jays.
In addition to being a successful boxing promoter, Lewis also made his mark in the world of entertainment.
Known for his unique style of dress, featuring the “shirtless tuxedo look,” Lewis appeared in several boxing documentaries, produced the pay-per-event, “James Brown: Living in America” and episodes of the Showtime series, “Linc’s,” and was executive producer of the film, Once Upon A Time…When We Were Colored.
In 2008, Lewis tried his hand at the music industry, partnering with Def Jam Records to create the label, Voicez. Last year, IMG Worldwide announced a joint talent management venture with Butch Lewis Productions.
A philanthropist, Lewis started a foundation that sent underprivileged students to college and provided Christmas gifts to needy Harlem children. During the early 1990’s, he worked closely with Nelson Mandela in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
The former car salesman from Philadelphia received an honorary doctorate and Candle Award in Business and Entertainment from Morehouse College. He was also recognized by the state of Delaware, where he lived at the end of his life, with “Butch Lewis Day” honors for his many charitable contributions.
Renowned boxing manager Rock Newman, who guided the career of former heavyweight boxing champ Riddick Bowe, described Lewis as a “masterful negotiator, a true Renaissance Man.”
“His high octane energy, charm, and colorful personality will be missed,” Newman said.
Along with his family, the long list of close friends left to mourn Lewis include Oscar winning actor Denzel Washington and billionaire businessman/BET founder, Bob Johnson.